Coffee beans

A life transformed by fertilizer

Oslo, April 25, 2013
“Now, I can even afford to send my children to school,” says Mohammadu Nindow, smallholder maize grower in the northern region of Ghana. He is an enthusiastic Yara customer, whose experience with YaraMila Actyva has brought prosperity into his life.
Mohammadu Nindow

I’m known around here as Papa Actyva, because I married Yara Actyva fertilizer as my wife! "That’s why they call me Papa Actyva!” Mohammadu Nindow says with delight.

Born some 54 years ago and married to three wives with 21 children, Mohammadu Nindow has been farming for about 35 years.

But the story was about to change some years ago. "Mr. Yara, I nearly stopped farming," Mohammadu said during a visit made by a crop expert from Yara. "I used to sell some of my animals to pay for loans that I take for farming every year, because yields were becoming too low - as low as 5 bags per acre (1.25 t/ha) - this could not even offset the cost of production."

"We introduced YaraMila Actyva to his village in 2008, through a farmers forum," says Mahamah Abdul-Rahaman, Yara commercial manager for the northern zone. "In fact most of them did not believe it could change their dwindling yield levels. We conducted a demonstration in the village applying YaraMila Actyva to maize for both basal and top dressing, and he was the contact farmer."

"It was the demonstration that gave me renewed faith that yields of maize could actually get higher," remembers 'Papa Actyva'.

Crop nutrition concept and knowledge

Poor soil fertility is the major problem in northern Ghana. Therefore, a knowledge-based approach is essential to improve farmers´ yields.

“If you provide the right inputs to a farmer, he can easily triple the yield. And the whole community will benefit from it,” says Mehdi Saint-André, Managing Director of Yara Ghana Ltd. explaining the essence of Yara’s Crop Nutrition Concept: supporting plant growth and farm productivity.

Farming is the only profession Mohammadu has learned and practiced throughout his life, because he was born into it. He cultivates mainly maize but also some rice and yam, and rears animals as well. Prior to learning about YaraMila Actyva he was using NPK 15.15.15, 20.20.20 and Ammonium Sulfate - all from competitors.

After Yara´s demonstration he fully embraced Actyva, and today he is the most prolific advocate of the YaraMila product, in his village and beyond.

"Today, I don't have to take out loans in order to farm. I am able to harvest about 15 bags of maize per acre (3.75 t/ha). I save enough to take care of my children's school fees and medical bills, I have a new apartment befitting my old age and a motorbike to roam around the village. I give 'Zakat' (alms) to the poor every year," says 'Papa Actyva'.

“Yara gives me the knowledge of how to plant and how to apply the fertilizer. So, I have seen the difference from the other fertilizer companies. I realized that only Yara people came to our communities to educate us,” he adds. 

Supporting smallholders to improve yields

"Papa Actyva is really one good example of a farmer who has benefited immensely from Yara crop nutrition in the zone. To the extent that Papa Actyva's credibility among his peers and his standing in the community at large has improved drastically," says Mahamah Abdul-Rahaman.

"Appeals have been made to him from the Chief and members of his community to spearhead the creation of the first retail shop in the community to sell Actyva and other fertilizer products to help improve their yields," says Henry Otoo-Mensah, retail sales manager for Yara Ghana.

As a retailer, Mohammadu's shops are now ready and he will start to sell in May when the farmer season starts this year.

Maize value chain

Yara has engaged in a partnership in Ghana to improve the productivity of maize production and profitability for smallholders farmers. In 2009 the Ghana Grains Partnership (GGP) helped set up the growers association Masara N´Arziki (Maize for Prosperity in the local language). The association purchases inputs for and on behalf of farmers, offers input packages and takes their crops to market.

In 2012 about 8,300 farmers tilling about 11,500 ha had enlisted in Masara N’Arziki. Yields have increased substantially, with a recorded average of about 5 mt/ha in 2012 – against a national average of 1.6–1.7 – and farmers have managed to increase their incomes.

Watch the video Maize for prosperity to know more about `Papa Actyva' and the GGP.

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